Thursday 10 June 2010

X-Men #100. Out with the old, in with the new.

X-Men #100, Original X-Men vs New, coverIf ever there was a 1960s Marvel strip I could've lived without, it was the maraudings of Marvel's merry band of mutants. From the Fantastic Four knock-offs that were its heroes, to grumpy old Professor X - not to mention useless villains like the Toad - the whole thing just seemed so lame. For God's sake, the Iceman used to stick a carrot to his face and hold a broom to pretend he was a snowman!

But, back in the 1970s, we used to get proper summers, summers so hot it made your head hurt, your blood boil and your brain start to malfunction. So it was that, despite knowing I hated the strip more than school itself, when confronted by X-Men #100, on a Blackpool spinner rack, I knew I had to have it.

The instant I opened it, two things struck me. One, the new X-Men were so much better than the old and, two, I didn't have a clue what was going on.

For some reason, they were in space.

There was a madman ranting away.

The old X-Men were fighting the new.

Lorna Dane had a costume that defied several laws of physics.

X-Men #100, Dave Cockrum, old vs new
There was a woman called Storm floating around.

Jean Grey had suddenly got cojones.

A character called Night-Crawler said something in German.

A character called Wolverine had claws - and used them.

There was a space shuttle.

There was a solar flare.

And, most of all, nothing but chaos seemed to be reigning. This whole thing was on a totally different level from the Iceman and his carrot.

Apart from the total superiority of the new X-Men, both as heroes and as human beings, the other thing that strikes me now is how much more dynamic Dave Cockrum's art is on this than it was on his Legion of Super-Heroes run.

X-Men #100, Dave Cockrum, Jean Grey, space shuttle, solar flare
His work on that was great and made it a must-read strip but, here, the Dial of Drama's been turned up to eleven, virtually every panel leaps off the page as a masterclass in getting drama across to the reader. From his choice of angles, his ability to keep the action rolling and his knack of making you feel you're watching real people caught in the thick of it, Cockrum's work simply bowls you along unstoppably.

Coupled with Chris Claremont's determination to wring the most out of his characters - we get tears, we get anger, we get confusion - this was no longer super-hero comics as pure escapism. It was super-hero comics as a heightened form of soap opera and it was fantastic.

Now if only they'd let Cockrum and Claremont loose on Nick Fury, there'd have been no 1960s Marvel heroes left that I'd have had reason to loathe.

1 comment:

charles fleming said...

fury steranko silly man, SHIELD!